Eugene Laverty was just 0.001s away from securing his first World Superbike pole position at Portimao on Saturday and is confident of again playing a leading role in Sunday's races.

After finishing Friday's first free practice session in seventh, Laverty has been second in every session since, continuing his fine record at the Algarve track which saw him take his first win for Aprilia here in 2012.

However the margin of Sykes' Superpole lead was a source of some frustration.

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"You can't get any closer to the pole than that! In any case I'm happy to be on the front row. I made a small mistake on my fast lap and I thought I had compromised my performance.

"When I went past the straight stretch and saw that my RSV4 instrument panel was showing the time the guys in the garage had told me was the best, I figured that there wouldn't be much of a difference.

"It's a shame for that thousandth of a second, but in any case we're ready for the races tomorrow, in the hope that the weather conditions will be good".

The Superbike paddock has endured mixed conditions throughout the weekend with Saturday's Superpole disrupted by a brief shower of rain. Quizzed by after the qualifying session on whether he would be equally adept at riding in damp conditions, the Toomebridge rider seemed unfazed.

"Yeah I would be [confident]. This bike is good in the rain. We've improved the in-between conditions, it is where we were weak last year and I think we have improved that in testing. We're prepared, the bike has been around for a long time and we're ready for all conditions.

"We're always thinking of the championship because we have to stay in the fight. We're 24 points behind now. I knew Donington was going to be tough but with a couple of good results I'll hope to gain it back tomorrow."

Despite his consistent showings throughout the weekend he believes any number of five riders can claim victory.

"Around here it's difficult to get away. Me, Sylvain, Johnny, Tom and Marco. There have been five riders that have been really strong all weekend so I expect them to be there."

By Neil Morrison